In some parts of the world, Water Scarcity can equate to disease, hunger, pollution, along with Water Conflict which can be directly attributed to safe drinking water, adequate sanitation, and hygiene, and water quality, unlike other countries that have Water Security. What is Water Security?
Water Security is the capacity of a population to have sustainable access to quantities of acceptable quality H2O for sustaining livelihoods, well-being, & socio-economic development, protection against water pollution & water-related disasters, & preserving ecosystems in peace & political stability.
Water is a finite resource having to serve exponentially more and more people and usages, and so ensuring everyone has access to a reliable supply is crucial to human survival and sustainable progress. 72% of all water withdrawals are used by agriculture, 16% by municipalities for households and services, and 12% by industries. Global water demand is projected to increase by 55% by 2050, along with Climate Change that will increase Water-related Disasters.
Why is Water Security Important
No matter what our differences are throughout the world and there are plenty, the one thing we all share is the need for water. Water is the necessity that interconnects the borders of states, communities, and countries. Safe drinking water, adequate sanitation, and hygiene are finite in numerous places around the world. Transboundary waters which are the aquifers, and lake and river basins shared by two or more countries – support the lives and livelihoods of vast numbers of people across the world.
In an era of increasing water stress, how we manage these critical resources is vital to promoting peaceful cooperation and sustainable development. This brings us to the meaning of Water Security. Increases in population economics and Climate change have depleted water supplies over time bringing conflict and unrest from the countries that share this water.
Dealing with the impacts of climate change combined with the demands of increasing populations and economic growth requires a worldwide, integrated approach to transboundary water resource management based on legal and institutional frameworks and shared benefits and costs. The 263 transboundary lake and river basins cover almost half the Earth’s surface. 145 States have territory in these basins, and 30 countries lie entirely within them. There are approximately 300 transboundary aquifers, helping to serve the 2 billion people who depend on groundwater.
Water Security is the capacity of a population to safeguard sustainable access to adequate quantities of acceptable quality water for sustaining livelihoods, human well-being, and socio-economic development, for ensuring protection against water-borne pollution and water-related disasters, and for preserving ecosystems in a climate of peace and political stability.” This is the definition proposed by UN-Water to serve as a starting point for dialogue in the UN system. This is according to The United Nation Council on Water Security
As Water Scarcity and Climate Change continue to affect the globe serious problems continue to develop in regions that already suffer the most. Water is the most critical resource here on earth. Nearly all human activity depends on water to survive commerce, transportation, sanitation, migration, and survival are all linked to water on earth.
Nearly 800 million people today worldwide don’t have access to clean drinking water In the last 60 years there have been 1,831 cases of International water disputes and dispute resolutions. This doesn’t include internal or domestic disputes like here in the US where landowners fight over water rights all the time.
At certain times the United Nations needs to step in to help settle these disputes. In particular countries in the Middle East are one of the most severe Water Conflict Zones. Most people believe that future wars will be fought over disputes pertaining to water rights than any other reason for conflict.
Disputes over river basins tend to spiral out of control faster than in any other part of the world. Primarily the Euphrates, Tigris, and Jorden Rivers in the region of the world. Controlling these sources of water in this arid region can be a key political advantage.
Privatization is another key because of its control and distribution that some countries have tried, unsuccessfully. This aspect of Water Security affects all businesses, populations, and the country’s economy.
Water Security Solutions
One answer for Water Security is for countries, communities, or cities is to manage the natural water it gets naturally through the water cycle. In urban areas, the water is engineered to get through pipes and channeled through pipes and concrete to get to where it’s needed or where it needs to go, directly to rivers so urban areas aren’t flooded because of the concrete runoff of the natural water cycle its called Gray Infrastructure because of all the concrete involved.
The natural runoff glaciers, snowmelt, and rainfall from the mountains run down through natural water sources like creeks and rivers and are absorbed through the ground filling aquifers, evaporating, or ending up in the sea. This type of architecture is now being used worldwide in cities and countries across the globe and is called Green Water Infrastructure.
These new designs are being built in new and existing cities along with communities across the globe called Water Sensitive Urban Designs (WUSUD), which was written about in a previous article. here in MyWaterEarth&Sky.
Water-sensitive urban design (WSUD) is a land planning & engineering design approach that integrates the urban water cycle, including stormwater, groundwater & wastewater management, & water supply, into urban design to minimize environmental degradation & improve aesthetic and recreational appeal. Complementing ongoing historical monitoring and statistical efforts to rely on.
Green Roofs, Garden Lots, and Wetlands built within the Urban area can filter stormwater runoff inside populated areas slow down polluted runoffs, and clean this water naturally before it flows into the streams and rivers that surround cities. With Gray and Green Infrastructure combined will compromise each other.
Because when disaster strikes, it usually manifests itself through the water. Floods, landslides, tsunamis, storms, heat waves, cold spells, droughts, and waterborne disease outbreaks are all becoming more frequent and more intense throughout the world. Even in the United States Infrastructure in towns and cities are well past its expiration date.
Other Water Security Solutions:
- Smart Leakage Reduction-The emergence of smart network systems and specialist smart leakage reduction services have dramatically improved the efficiency of the process, delivering higher volumes of water savings and faster payback periods. They have big applications that can be applied to Municipal systems and smaller ones to single homes.
- Demand Management-A’s key means of relieving pressure on scarce water resources is to reduce demand. Changes in consumer behavior can dramatically reduce total demand on a water system, and buy time for utilities and industries to plan and execute supply-side responses with long-term goals, rather than short-term needs, in mind.
- Desalination– a lifeline to countries with either scarce or brackish groundwater reserves. Once too expensive but now falling cost of desalination technologies and increasing recognition of the need to have a diverse portfolio of water resources means that desalination is now more feasible than ever before. More and more numbers of utilities and industries are seizing the opportunity to make use of seawater and brackish water to reduce the pressure on conventional water resources.
- Water Reuse– a must for the future with plenty of fresh ideas and new technologies, shifting public opinion, and the development of water recycling programs to enhance existing utility systems, cities and industries alike are increasingly finding ways to provide cost-effective and innovative water reuse solutions.
The world is finally coming to a realization that water is a finite resource in many ways and has to be well managed, directed, and sustained globally from the places that have plenty to the places that don’t. “Water-all we’ve ever had is all we ever will”
Author/Editor Jim Galloway
References: UN Water-Water, Food Energy
US Aid Agency for International Development Water & Conflict